16 December 2015

He is back!

The thing about facing 70 is that one has been through it all at least once. I have been through Donald Trump before. His name was Joe McCarthy.

At the end of World War Two, the euphoria that America experienced after the defeat of both Germany, and Japan, gave way to fear. That fear was caused by, and focused on the Soviet Union and China. We summarized that as, "godless Marxism."

How afraid of Marxism were we? Congress, always a bellwether of our fears added the words, "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. We went from a post Civil War affirmation, "One nation" to "One Nation under God. Somehow, some Americans believed that if we just said that loud and often enough, we would create a world without Marx. To say the least, that was not a success. The damage done to the First Amendment is perhaps a topic for another post.

We became more afraid. As our fear rose, the level of our political discourse, and the quality of our candidates fell. By 1952, an out-of-control alcoholic, bombastic, and dishonest demagogue named Joseph McCarthy had become a national politician. He left a new, "ism," word: McCarthyism. He fed on the fears of the country, and very nearly took control of the Senate, and presidency. He had allies in the fear business, Richard Nixon, Bishop Sheen, and a fairly large number of protestant clergy.

So what do we say about this time in America? The Christmas story we Christians tell ourselves in almost countless children's pageants, begins when an Angel appears to Mary and says,
“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

Luke 1 v28 - 30, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version as found at this site

The Christmas story, as told by Luke, Mathew, and explained by John, over and over again tells us, "Do not be afraid" for a reason. It is fear, which is the enemy of faith, love, and democracy. Irrational fear of minorities, ethnic, gender, or religious, is the tool of the demagogue.

I do not mean we should be headless. Yes, we should maintain an office of vigilance, looking at whom it is who seeks our visa. Yes we should feel free to exclude fundamentalists, jihadists, of any religion. And yes we should seek out Constitutional ways to regulate the application of the Second Amendment. Some of my progressive / liberal friends fear guns at the same irrational level Mr. Trump asks us to fear Muslims, so we need to be careful in this action too.

But we need always, to say to ourselves: do not be afraid. Informed caution does not tarnish the many for the evil actions of the few.

In the process of not being afraid, we need to cast the Trump candidacy on the scrap heap of history, next to McCarthyism, and its European cousins. Be not afraid, be active, committed to you faith as it may be, and seek to move forward.

1 comment:

Leonard said...

Agreed. Thank you, Len MERRY CHRISTMAS (soon)

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